Movie 'Gods' maximizes dramatic impact of original story: director
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By Shim Sun-ah
SEOUL, Nov. 14 (Yonhap) -- Kim Yong-hwa, writer-director of the local fantasy film "Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds," said on Tuesday he chose to maximize the original webtoon's dramatic tension to make it into a gripping film.
The film set to open on Dec. 20 is the first installment of a two-part series based on a sensational webtoon of the same title by Joo Ho-min, which depicts a dead man who is judged in seven hells for 49 days, guided by three grim reapers.
"When I first read the original webtoon at the request from the film production, I was shocked for its insightful and sensible story," he said during a news conference for the movie at a Seoul theater.
Director Kim Yong-hwa speaks during a press conference for "Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds," at a Seoul theater on Nov. 14, 2017. (Yonhap)
He confided that as a big fan of the webtoon, he at first was negative about cramming the whole story spanning eight books into one film with a two-hour runtime.
As the film studio tenaciously insisted that the veteran director, who has four feature films under his belt, helm the film version, he later changed his mind and suggested combining two different characters of the chief grim reaper and a lawyer in the original story into one to make it more gripping.
As a result of years of pondering, "Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds," became the first installment of the two-part movie series. The two were shot simultaneously, the first time in Korean film history, with the same main cast members, director and crew. It cost a total of five years, including 11 months of filming, and 40 billion won (US$35 million) to produce the series.
Director Kim Yong-hwa (2nd from R) and main cast of "Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds" pose for photographers during a press conference for the film at a Seoul theater on Nov. 14, 2017. (Yonhap)
The director stressed that there is no big difference between the original and the movie version.
"The film version has the same storyline and characters of the original work. The only difference, if I should tell, is that the dramatic impact from the original was maximized because movies have to immerse viewers only in a limited time. I had to satisfy both of those who love the original and who haven't seen it yet."
Actors Ha Jung-woo, Ju Ji-hoon and Kim Hyang-gi played the roles of three grim reapers while Cha Tae-hyun's character is Ja-hong, the righteous dead.
Ha drove laughter from the crowd by saying that he thought the method of shooting two films at the same time was "extremely cost-saving."
"Otherwise there would be problems with the filming set and schedules of actors and staff. Some actors may get older and Hyang-gi may grow up in the interval. I bet the producers have determined to 'go at a single stroke' after much calculation. I was confused the first three months because when I finished filming my part in the first installment with its main actors, then came actors of the second installment."
A promotional poster provided by Lotte Entertainment for "Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds." (Yonhap)
He said it was really difficult for him to "live as a death angel" for over a year, including the pre-production period.
In the movie, Ha is Gang-rim, the chief death angel and lawyer who defends Ja-hong in the trial to decide whether to reincarnate him or not.
"He is a death angel who can fly in the sky and teleport, but it's a character that has human charm," said the actor.
He said many people might misunderstand it as just another CG VFX-heavy project, but it is more of a powerful drama. "It explores matters anyone can face at least once in their life."